"2013-14 Canadiens Season Review: Thomas Vanek" by Andrew Berkshire for Eyes on the Prize. 

After a disappointing playoffs that ended with Thomas Vanek blaming his linemates instead of owning up to his lack of effort, his leaving has come as a nearly welcome event in Montreal. He became an easy target in a city that likes taking potshots, when not many players were opening themselves up to criticism during a great playoff run. The truth of the matter though, is that Vanek came as advertised.

Read the full article here.

"Minnesota Wild Will Be Better With Mathew Dumba" by Tony Wiseau for Hockey Wilderness.

The odds of Mathew Dumba starting the season on the Minnesota Wild’s roster are slim.

The Wild had Dumba make the team out of camp last year, so one could wonder why wouldn’t he make the team this year. It’s because due to the Canadian Juniors / NHL transfer agreement, a player under the age of 20 must either play in the NHL, or be sent back to his Junior team. The Wild felt that he was too advanced to go back to Red Deer (of the WHL), and kept him on the NHL roster to develop.

Read the full article here.

"Offseason vanishing in sports today" by Bob Ryan for the Boston Globe. 

There is no longer any such thing in American professional sports as an “offseason.”
In each 12-month cycle there are two distinct phases. Either you are playing games or you are not playing games. And when you are not playing games there is now as much coverage as when you are actually playing games.

Exhibit A, of course, was the recent LeBron James free agency phenomenon. The run-up to his decision was relentless, and when the news broke that he was heading back to Cleveland it was a true stop-the-presses moment that could never have materialized in the Bill Russell-Wilt Chamberlain era, when there was no such thing as free agency.

Read the full article here.

"Offseason vanishing in sports today" by Bob Ryan for the Boston Globe. 

There is no longer any such thing in American professional sports as an “offseason.”

In each 12-month cycle there are two distinct phases. Either you are playing games or you are not playing games. And when you are not playing games there is now as much coverage as when you are actually playing games.

Exhibit A, of course, was the recent LeBron James free agency phenomenon. The run-up to his decision was relentless, and when the news broke that he was heading back to Cleveland it was a true stop-the-presses moment that could never have materialized in the Bill Russell-Wilt Chamberlain era, when there was no such thing as free agency.

Read the full article here.

"NHL.com Fantasy Rankings Reveal Wild Goaltending Conundrum" at The Hockey Writers.

Wild fans don’t need me to tell them that the goaltending situation in Minnesota for the 2014-15 season is a little messy. But, despite general manager Chuck Fletcher saying he’d be willing to carry three goalies, almost everyone expected the Wild to make some kind of move, even if we couldn’t think of a single viable option other than stand pat. Now, NHL.com has released their first fantasy hockey player rankings for the 2014-15 season and it’s revealing of just how confusing and unique the Wild goaltending situation is.

Read the full article here.

"The San Jose Sharks’ Weird Offseason and How It Sets Them Up for 2014-15" by Dave Lozo for Bleacher Report.

It’s been almost three months since the San Jose Sharks were eliminated from the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs in spectacular fashion. Holding a 3-0 first-round series lead against the rival Los Angeles Kings, the Sharks were outscored 18-5 as they dropped the final four games to lose the series. 

That hurts as much to type as it does to read for Sharks fans, as it’s become common knowledge to the point that it feels like explaining hockey is played with a puck.

As if the pain of that defeat wasn’t enough, the Kings marched to their second Stanley Cup in three seasons while the Sharks were again faced with questions about underachieving in the postseason.

Read the full article here.

Ice-Girl-Gate in San Jose continues.

(Seriously though… ice girls “enhance the game experience”? Seriously?)

"How much money do Stanley Cup winning teams spend on free agents?" by Adam Gretz.

The one thing the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers had in common when they met in the Stanley Cup Final was their ability to build their teams without having to rely on big-money free agents. The only player on either team that signed a significant contract in the free agent market was Brad Richards with the Rangers, and as soon as the series ended they used a compliance buyout to get the remaining four years of his deal off of their salary cap.

Building a team through free agency is a tough route to take because teams are usually willing to pay up to keep the best players in the league and prevent them from hitting the open market. The players that do end up getting to test free agency are either flawed and can be expensive gambles, or have usually already played their best hockey and are at a point in their career where their production is going to start declining.  

Read the full article here.

"Are the Chicago Blackhawks’ Top Young Talents Destined to Be Traded?" by Steve Silverman for Bleacher Report. 

When young players get drafted or signed by the Chicago Blackhawks, it is almost always considered a big honor.

The Blackhawks have one of the most talented rosters and deepest organizations in the NHL. They don’t just bring players aboard so they can have another body to fill out the uniform.

General manager Stan Bowman is looking for high quality, and he has a proven track record.

But after players like Ryan Hartman (2013 first-round draft pick) and Nick Schmaltz (this year’s first-round selection) get done realizing what a compliment they have received, the good times start to fade away. Chicago’s talented roster cuts two ways.

Read the full article here.

"Valeri Kharlamov: The Most Overrated Player in History" by Bill Schoeninger for The Hockey Writers. 

If you were to ask a hockey fan from Russia who the greatest Russian/Soviet player ever was, the answer, without hesitation, would be Valeri Kharlamov. In Russia, Kharlamov enjoys legendary status among hockey fans. His legend is so great that some question whether he was as talented as Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux. He is the idol of almost every young Russian hockey player. Ilya Kovalchuk wore Valeri Kharlamov’s #17 in the NHL, and Evgeni Malkin wears the reverse, #71. No Russian player wears Kharlamov’s #17 in international games (other than the World Juniors), and for awhile, nobody did in the Russian domestic league.

Other than fellow Soviet Vladislav Tretiak, Valeri Kharlamov is the only player to be elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame without playing a single NHL game. He is also a member of the IIHF Hall of Fame, Russian Hockey Hall of Fame, and was selected to the IIHF Centennial All Star Team.

Read the full article here. 

"Valeri Kharlamov: The Most Overrated Player in History" by Bill Schoeninger for The Hockey Writers. 

If you were to ask a hockey fan from Russia who the greatest Russian/Soviet player ever was, the answer, without hesitation, would be Valeri Kharlamov. In Russia, Kharlamov enjoys legendary status among hockey fans. His legend is so great that some question whether he was as talented as Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux. He is the idol of almost every young Russian hockey player. Ilya Kovalchuk wore Valeri Kharlamov’s #17 in the NHL, and Evgeni Malkin wears the reverse, #71. No Russian player wears Kharlamov’s #17 in international games (other than the World Juniors), and for awhile, nobody did in the Russian domestic league.

Other than fellow Soviet Vladislav Tretiak, Valeri Kharlamov is the only player to be elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame without playing a single NHL game. He is also a member of the IIHF Hall of Fame, Russian Hockey Hall of Fame, and was selected to the IIHF Centennial All Star Team.

Read the full article here. 

"3 Takeaways from Boston Bruins 2014 Development Camp" by Al Daniel for Bleacher Report. 

With Sunday’s conclusion to their 2014 prospect development camp, the Boston Bruins have polished off the first on-ice appetizer for 2014-15.

Monday marks 66 days until the Sept. 18 training camp opener, when the established professionals reconvene. They could join one or both of the first-round draft picks who spent the past week training with their fellow young aspirants.

Read the full article here.